Eight years ago I published a newsletter titled The (Voting) Process. It wasn’t about the Electoral College, campaigning or the politics of the time but rather about the arcane process at my local polling place. I discussed what seemed to be a nonsensical process of lines and little slips of paper. That newsletter wasn’t really about the voting process at my polling place per se but rather about processes in general. It used the polling place as an example and encouraged business owners and leaders to look at their internal processes and question why things were done in a certain way and how they could be made more efficient.
Well, eight years later I’m happy to report that the process at my polling place was very different this time around. The little slips of paper and multiple lines were replaced with iPads. Now there was a single line with a number of iPads set up at the end and a few touchscreens later one was able to quickly proceed to the actual voting machines. The process was much quicker and much more efficient which was certainly a welcome change and a needed improvement especially since voting was up 6% from eight years ago.
But why is the change at my local polling place worth pointing out? Because time slips by and my newsletter of eight years ago serves as a benchmark at a point in time. It’s easy to carry on day after day or year after year doing things the same way without really questioning why they are done in a particular manner. Days are relatively small increments of time but years are another matter.
It’s the same reason I write a monthly MD&A (Management Discussion & Analysis) for many of my clients at the end of each month. Like the newsletter on voting, those monthly reports serve a benchmark for performance and our thinking at a point in time. I have frequently looked back months and at times years later in order to assess whether our thoughts were accurate or not and what might have changed. They serve as a record of progress that the business has made and there can be no revisionist history of what might have happened because there is a written record.
At times, I have looked back at the first generation of documents and reports and with 20/20 hindsight thought that they were actually pretty bad and that our thoughts were later proved wrong in various areas. But that serves as a mark of progress and how much the management team has advanced over the years. What seemed like groundbreaking analysis at one point later became common place or little more than an afterthought years later.
Look back at your own business over the past eight years (or pick a different but meaningful time frame). Have your business processes changed? How much more efficient are they now compared to the past? Are you maximizing the use of the latest technology? How has your thinking about how the business operates changed? How have the external environment, marketplace and competition changed and how have you adapted?
If my local election commission has made a significant shift in processes and efficiency over the past eight years, surely you should have done the same!
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to [email protected] The archive of these monthly newsletters is posted at the Resources section of homza.com
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